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THE SPIRITUALITY OF JESUITS
Psychosexual Weil-Being in Jesuit Life
GERDENIO SONNY MANUEL, SJ.
41/2 • SUMMER 2009
THE SEMINAR ON JESUIT SPIRITUALITY
The Seminar is composed of a number of Jesuits appointed from their provinces in the United
It concerns itself with topics pertaining to the spiritual doctrine and practice of Jesuits,
especially United States Jesuits, and communicates the results to the members of the provinces
through its publication, Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits. This is done in the spirit of
Vatican II's recommendation that religious institutes recapture the original inspiration of their
founders and adapt it to the circumstances of modern times. The Seminar welcomes reactions or
comments in regard to the material that it publishes.
The Seminar focuses its direct attention on the life and work of the Jesuits of the Unit-
ed States. The issues treated may be common also to Jesuits of other regions, to other priests, re-
ligious, and laity, to both men and women. Hence, the journal, while meant especially for Ameri-
can Jesuits, is not exclusively for them. Others who may find it helpful are cordially welcome to
make use of it.
CURRENT MEMBERS OF THE SEMINAR
R. Bentley Anderson, S.J., teaches history at St. Louis University, St. Louis, Mo. (2008)
Richard A. Blake, S. J., is chairman of the Seminar and editor of STUDIES; he teaches film studies
at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass. (2002)
James T. Bretzke, S.J., teaches theology at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry,
Boston, Mass. (2006)
Gerald T. Cobb, S.J., teaches English at Seattle University, Seattle, Wash. (2007)
Patrick J. Howell, S.J., is rector of the Jesuit Community and Vice-President for Mission and
Ministry at at Seattle University, Seattle, Wash. (2006)
Mark S. Massa, S. J., teaches theology and is director of the American Catholic Studies Program
at Fordham University, Bronx, N. Y. (2006)
Thomas Massaro, S.J., teaches theology at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Bos-
ton, Mass. (2006)
Michael C. McCarthy, S.J, teaches theology and classics at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara,
Thomas J. Scirghi, S.J., teaches liturgy at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, Berkeley,
Thomas Worcester, S.J., teaches history at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Mass.
Michael A. Zampelli, S. J., teaches theater and dance at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, Cal.
The opinions expressed in Studies are those of the individual authors thereof. Parentheses des-
ignate year of entry as a Seminar member.
Copyright © 2009 and published by the Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality
Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits
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in Jesuit Life
Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J.
STUDIES IN THE SPIRITUALITY OF JESUITS
41/2 • SUMMER 2009
the first word . . .
Money and sex: two monster topics that only the intrepid dare to write about
these days. Or the foolhardy. Faced with matters of such delicacy and follow-
ing the precedent of a master teacher from long ago and his four competent
interpreters, let's explore these complex areas together through parable. Rath-
er than base our analogies on husbandry ancient inheritance customs, and ag-
riculture, let's invoke stories more familiar to contemporary readers.
A shipping company dispatches a fleet of three supertankers, laden with
Alaska crude, from its deep-water port of Valdez, Alaska, bound for the re-
fineries of Long Beach, California. One runs aground near Big Sur country,
breaks apart, and spills its noxious contents. Seals and shore birds die by the
thousands. The scenic region becomes a barren wasteland, the tourist indus-
try vanishes, and hundreds of people lose their jobs and investments. An in-
vestigation discovers that the captain had ordered his officer of the deck to
sail outside the specified shipping lanes. Purveyors of rant radio whip their
listeners into a frenzy. Enraged politicians demand prison sentences for those
responsible, but the captain argues that he was following mandatory proto-
cols to change course to avoid a school of spawning sea otters.
A second captain retires for the night, apparently leaving the bridge in
command of an apprentice seaman, who misreads the charts and the radar
screen, and sails into San Francisco Bay, where he plows into the Golden Gate
Bridge with such force that the damaged pilings are judged beyond repair.
The bridge must be completely demolished and rebuilt from scratch. The proj-
ect will cost billions and take a decade or more, but no one is clear whether
the state, the Federal Government, or the shipping company should pay for
it. The submerged hull blocks access to the harbor indefinitely. The press —
the tabloids, as well as the good gray Times— the networks, and public radio,
lambaste the captain's irresponsible action, but he maintains that according to
international maritime regulations, he may not spend more than a specified
number of consecutive hours on the bridge. Taking a break after a full day at
the helm was required. In addition, it seems the seaman left in charge, though
young, was fully licensed to operate in those waters.
After an evening of hard drinking (as it was reported), a third captain ig-
nores storm warnings in the San Pedro Channel. The hurricane of the century
drives the ship into the rocks off Catalina, where it founders and sinks. The
spill destroys recreational beaches and fisheries all along the coast of Southern
California. The fumes from the oil spill blend with the perennial smog in the
region, and Disneyland must be closed and parts of Los Angeles evacuated.
Respiratory illness spikes, and personal-liability lawyers swarm like killer bees.
The public demands punitive action, but the company argues that it has no
control over storms. In addition, the alcohol referred to in the initial report may
have been a medicinal alcohol used to clean a cut the first mate sustained when
he fell and hit his head during the rough weather.
Losing three giant vessels in a short period precipitates the closing of refin-
eries in Long Beach and a huge spike in the price of gasoline and heating oil on
the East Coast in the depth of winter. Investors panic when they discover just
how fragile the supply lines are and withdraw their money from the Pacific
coast shipping route. Without cash, several supertankers are put into dry dock
and wells stop pumping. It seems that the industry is crumbling like a house of
cards built over the San Andreas fault.
Outraged citizens demand from the owners not only reparation but cash
compensation and jail terms for the perpetrators. The media turn the outrage
into a major story in itself. Every day they fan the flames by reporting newly re-
vealed instances of incompetence and malfeasance among the most highly paid
ships 7 captains in the world. Corporate lawyers smell both blood and commis-
sions in the water. Each story includes interviews and photographs of people
who have lost their livelihood, homes, and savings because of the ecological di-
saster. Pundits and demagogues agree that someone has to pay for this deba-
cle, but constructive remedies remain elusive. The pattern becomes established:
an indisputable disaster, media frenzy based on preliminary evidence, public
outrage, a search for simple explanations, rush to judgment. Yet in all the cov-
erage of these very complicated incidents, no one seems to know exactly what
happened, or what to do to repair the damage, or what positive steps to take to
prevent its recurrence.
The parable has an obvious application, and one not so obvious. The story
of the year involves a world economy run aground. Ironically, we Jesuits with
our vow of poverty remain insulated from much of the fall-out. It's unlikely
that we will lose our homes, jobs, health insurance, and retirement funds, as
many others have. We may feel the pinch in some areas, like personal budgets
and some adjustments in our standard of living within the community. WeTl
feel the institutional crunch as endowments and contributions decrease and the
needs of those we serve in our ministries increase. Seeing the suffering of oth-
ers provokes genuine compassion, as it should. Like everyone else, we search
for clear explanations and indeed, more importantly, for someone to blame for
all this. Yet the more we read, the more complicated the story becomes.
As a confessed news junkie and someone who has spent most of his adult
life dealing with the printed word, I can't remember any story that has so baf-
fled me. Even the terminology stops me cold. I'm fairly sure I'm not alone. Let's
gather a group of the brethren in a classroom for a pop vocabulary quiz. Most
of us might have a fairly accurate idea of liquidity, equity, and mutual funds,
and we can figure out from context that a sub-prime mortgage is considered a
toxic asset, which in turn is a euphemism for insane risk. When the assets be-
come bundled, toxicity increases to life-threatening levels. We could probably
make a fairly good stab at leverage, even though our answer might not bring a
perfect grade in Finance 101. Now we get into the interesting stuff. How many
of us could clearly explain a hedge fund or derivative, or make a sharp distinc-
tion between stocks, bonds, and securities? And for an honors bonus, try credit
default swaps, a term that not even people engaged in the practice really un-
Nonetheless, despite my bewilderment, I follow the story obsessively Real-
ly, the press has given us no alternative. Every newspaper and television news-
cast adds more detail and analysis. Like many of us outsiders, I look for simple
facts that provide the illusion of understanding a situation that is clearly be-
yond my grasp. Several times a day I'll compulsively check out the Dow Jones
averages for the stock market, even though columnists and television sages as-
sure us that this is a most unreliable gauge of the economy as a whole. Even
though the financial world remains a mystery, I can tell if the DJ is up or down.
It's reassuring. I look for information that makes sense to me. It's comforting to
believe that greedy Wall Street brokers and investment bankers caused all this,
and an anti-regulatory myopia in a conservative administration let them get
away with it. As more information becomes available, it seems clear that each
of these explanations is only partially true and, therefore, quite possibly par-
tially false. Recall the paradigm from the parable: relentless news coverage of
an incredibly complex set of facts, the search for simple explanations, and a de-
mand for immediate retribution for those responsible. We run the risk of look-
ing for immediate quick fixes, rather than probing the underlying causes and
searching for long-term solutions.
Now to sex, the second and less obvious application of the parable. The
Church has experienced its own set of shipwrecks in the sex-abuse scandals of
the past few years. New allegations and documents continue to emerge, and
it seems some states want to extend the statute of limitations to facilitate ad-
ditional allegations against religious, but not publicly financed institutions.
This sad voyage has not yet ended. Some media coverage has been hostile, of
course, but on the whole the secular news services probably did us a great ser-
vice by helping us confront this painful situation with candor and remorse,
when a desire to avoid scandal might have unduly influenced policy decisions.
It's been a noisy season. Sensational allegations draw headlines, as do alleged
failures by Church leadership in dealing with them. Public outrage was swift,
and in many cases appropriately so. Yet, as in the other examples, the demand
for instant recrimination often leads to hasty conclusions based on incomplete
During the first frenzy of breaking news stories, many of us cringed as all-
knowing television panelists offered their simplistic solutions based on very
little understanding of clerical celibacy, the vow of chastity, seminary training,
Church discipline, rectory or community life, and canon law, and on absolutely
no knowledge whatever of the individuals involved. Their outrage led some to
give the impression that they felt any allegation should be assumed true before
any effective investigation had taken place. The simplistic explanations they
offered were based not on scientific data, but rather on the overarching pre-
sumption that the Church is simply out of touch on sexual issues in the modern
world. From this warped perspective, solutions flow easily: let priests marry (as
though married men aren't vulnerable to sexual transgressions), ordain women,
bar all homosexuals from seminaries or, if ordained, from active ministry, since
the boundary between homosexuality and pedophilia is illusory Most galling
of all was their constant suggestion that this problem is unique to the Catholic
clergy and never occurs in public schools, scout camps, locker rooms, or play-
grounds. Recognition of the abuse perpetrated by family members, some of
whom may be married, never seemed to enter the conversation. Sadly, we are
in fact dealing not with a clerical problem, but with a human problem. We have
our responsibilities for problems in our own household, of course, but compre-
hensive explanations and remedies should be sought in wider society as well as
in the Church.
I wonder how much these easy media assumptions have shaped the conver-
sation over the past few years. Do these opinions of television panelists, col-
umnists, and news stories really reflect the ideas of the public at large? I'm not
sure, but I do have a sense that the dialogue that we Church people should be
having has been hijacked by events and by outside observers. The latest news
stories dominate our thinking to an unhealthy degree, and we're put in a po-
sition of reacting, either with defensiveness or self-flagellation. Draco of Ath-
ens has organized a bandwagon. It's been difficult to stand back, take a deep
breath and wonder, and pray, about our own sexuality, to embrace it as a bless-
ing, while acknowledging its dangers, and to take steps to cultivate our own
healthy, celibate sexuality. We've become intimidated by the tragedies we've
lived through, to the point that we cannot discuss our own sexuality without
fear that we are giving ammunition to those who misunderstand or revile our
lives of chastity.
In this context, this issue of Studies is long overdue. It's a reflection we have
needed for a long time, and we can be grateful to Sonny Manuel for offering it
to our readership. It recaptures the conversation from the headlines. Drawing
on his vast experience as psychologist, teacher, counselor, and religious supe-
rior, Sonny has opened up the topic to include the many wider contexts of our
community life and ministries. He encourages us to accept ourselves as sexual
beings, and integrate our sexuality into our lives as consecrated, vowed reli-
gious. At several points in his essay, he interrupts the exposition to introduce
questions for personal and community reflection. These exercises, then, can
prove helpful for personal meditation or for communal conversations. I think
you will find this issue not only timely and useful, which it is, but one that will
merit repeated meditative readings.
Richard A. Blake, S.J.
I. Live Close to God and Our Deepest Desires 6
II. Develop Broad and Deep Interpersonal Relationships
and Communities of Support 9
III. Ask for Love, Nurture Others, and
Negotiate Separation 16
IV. Cope with Stress and Recognize Destructive Patterns
of Behavior 25
V. Celebrate the Holy in the Company of Jesus 32
Letter to the Editor 37
Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J., is currently rector of the Jesuit Com-
munity at Santa Clara University, where he was dean of the School
of Education and vice-provost. He presently teaches in the Psycholo-
gy Department. In recent years he has served as vocation director and
vice-provincial for formation in the California Province. He is also the
province delegate for misconduct issues and victim outreach. He re-
ceived his doctorate in clinical psychology at Duke University, and
completed his internship at Cambridge City Hospital, Harvard Medi-
in Jesuit Life
For the -past several years the sex-abuse scandals in the
Church have dominated discussions of the celibate religious
life. Psychosexual maturity, however, is an integral com-
ponent of Jesuit spirituality as it touches both community
life and ministry. It deserves prayerful reflection that is not
dictated by current headlines.
A life without sex makes little sense if living chastity is not under-
stood in all of its depth and breadth. Choosing to be chaste and celibate,
Jesuits profess that their way of life can be a pathway to God. And yet
exploring the connection between this aspiration and its reality today
is a complicated question. In a recent conversation with priests, Pope
Benedict clearly affirmed the value of priestly celibacy as "a 'great re-
minder ' of the priest's total gift of himself to God and to other s." 1 His
words echo the Society's understanding of chastity as "a contemplative
love that includes all human beings and makes the Jesuit open and able
to find God everywhere/' 2 Against this understanding of celibacy and
chastity as unique ways of loving God and neighbor in the world, oth-
ers have argued that the Church's celibacy requirement has contributed
^ohn L. Allen, Jr., "All Things Catholic: A Round of Questions for the 'Shep-
herd-in-Chief/ " National Catholic Reporter Conversation Cafe (ncrcafe.org) 7, no. 47 (Au-
gust 2008): 3.
2 "Chastity in the Society of Jesus," in Documents of the Thirty-Fourth General Congre-
gation of the Society of Jesus (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1995), no. 238 (p. 116).
* Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J.
to the sex abuse crisis. 3 As evidence, of much-publicized clergy sexual
misconduct has emerged, some commentators have even argued that
priestly celibacy and religious chastity now appear to be a destructive
way of life.
No doubt comments about the health of our lifestyle are met with
varying degrees of embarrassment. When the national media were high-
lighting the perils of clergy sex abuse, one Jesuit scholastic described
feeling conspicuous at a large family gathering. 'The sight of a young
man in a Roman collar in public could bring new and unsavory images
to mind/ 7 he wrote. "And there I was in that restaurant, with six small
children clambering up and over me." 4 Another Jesuit, a priest, recalled
an awkward moment at a family party. The climax of the evening's fes-
tivities was voting for their respective choices for "Alpha Male" and
"Queen Bee" according to their own admittedly idiosyncratic criteria.
Prior to the balloting, he explained how they would assess the "manli-
ness" and /or "womanliness" of each member of the group:
If you have a cool new car, drink hard liquor like shots of Scotch, your man-
liness rating goes up; if, however, you lack aggressiveness, appear to be out
of shape or simply too artsy, you lose manliness points big time. All of this
was tongue in cheek and in good humor. However, when it came to evalu-
ating me, a slightly intoxicated female cousin of mine started by saying that
she meant the following with no disrespect, but . . . how can we really talk
about the manliness of someone "who does not enjoy the companionship
of a woman" (that's her felicity of idiom, not mine). Immediately, a silence
and profound discomfort seized the group, not to mention my own sense of
embarrassment as I had to endure my sisters and brothers, cousins, nieces,
nephews, and others talk clumsily and awkwardly about celibacy. At the
moment, I felt as though something blunt and brutal was being dragged
over a wound even as they tried gracefully to move past me. And yet at the
end of the day, and for many days consequent, I felt a visceral sense of hu-
miliation and personal vulnerability — of being judged and being able to of-
fer no justification or defense for who I am.
At some point in our Jesuit lives, perhaps we've all experienced simi-
lar feelings of vulnerability, embarrassment, or even shame when we
3 Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Re-
claiming the Spirit of Jesus (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2008), 18.
4 Iames T. Keane, SJ., "Vocation and Crisis: Entering Religious Life during a Time
of Scandal," America (February 4, 2008), 15.
Living Chastity ^
are innocently asked, "Are you married?" "Do you have children?" Or
"What made you become a priest?" These questions can seem to trans-
late as, "How in the world could you do that to yourself?"
Underlying these feelings of vulnerability might be unease about
ourselves that we have yet to explore fully. At the very least, it is diffi-
cult for us to cope with public opinion that doubts religious life and/
or priesthood are psychologically healthy. As a result, we can find our-
selves wondering how we would even know and what we would point
to as healthy indicators of our psychosexual well-being. Voices in the
media and mental health profession unsettle us. Some, for instance, pre-
dict that sexual acting out and other forms of reckless self destructive
behavior will be the inevitable result of a fundamentally dysfunction-
al lifestyle and dysfunctional
church. 5 Others suspect that
the root of the problem lies Whereas in recent years there
deeply within us— that we has been heightened interest
have chosen celibacy and re- W the relationship between
ligious chastity because we psychological dysfunction and
ourselves are dysfunctional, clergy sexual misconduct, there
hiding our own fears of sexu- has been little commentary on the
al and interpersonal intimacy positive aspects— psychological,
in the guise of a religious vo- social, and spiritual— of living
cation and clerical ministry. chaste and celibate.
To negotiate such suspicions ^^_^_ ^^^^^^^^^__^^__
about celibacy and religious
chastity remains an important challenge for us because they cut to the
core of our self -understanding as Jesuits, asking how confidently we in-
habit our own skin. I believe we can and must address these questions
for ourselves. Otherwise, it will be impossible for us to answer them for
others: for a curious public or, more important, for someone who is in-
terested in becoming a priest or entering religious life. If we fail to at-
tend to questions about our psychosexual health, we risk further dam-
aging a gift God has given the Church for centuries and which we, now
in these challenging times, have been invited to embrace.
I wholeheartedly believe that Jesuits living chastity can embody
psychosexual well-being. Chastity and celibacy cannot be understood
solely from the viewpoint of what is given up, a life without sex or mar-
Kenneth M. Adams, "Clergy Sex Abuse: A Commentary on Celibacy/' Sexual
Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention 10, no. 2-3 (2003): 91.
* Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J.
riage. Jesuits need to understand how we actively engage living chas-
tity and promote psychosexual well-being as a gift of our vocation. I
propose five active practices of religious life that promote psychosexual
health; together they represent a range of experiential dimensions to liv-
ing chastity that can help us assess ourselves:
I. Live close to God and our deepest desires.
II. Develop broad and deep interpersonal relationships
and communities of support.
III. Ask for love, nurture others, and negotiate separation.
IV. Cope with stress and recognize destructive patterns of
V. Celebrate the holy in the company of Jesus.
Over many years, these active practices have emerged as salient
markers of psychosexual well-being in my own experience of our life
and ministry. They are also the fruit of listening closely to Jesuits in a
variety of roles: in my conversations with Jesuits from novitiate to final
vows as their formation director, in coming to know the stories of vic-
tims and perpetrators of sexual misconduct as the province delegate
for misconduct issues and victim outreach, and from listening to con-
temporaries and senior Jesuits in my role as rector of a large university
community. My study and practice as a clinical psychologist have also
helped me identify concrete questions that highlight how these prac-
tices are expressed or diminished in our behavior over time. Across age
span and sexual orientation and throughout the various stages of Jesuit
life, formation, and ministry, attention to these experiential dimensions
can provide a lens into how individual Jesuits are living chastity and
how the vow shapes our psychosexual health. As I discuss these mark-
ers, I hope to illustrate how they echo and amplify many of the major
themes highlighted in the Society's most recent decree on the call to
chastity and its apostolic character, the cost of discipleship and the life
of ministry. 6
Attention to the experiential dimensions of living chastity is es-
pecially timely. Whereas in recent years there has been heightened in-
terest in the relationship between psychological dysfunction and clergy
sexual misconduct, there has been little commentary on the positive as-
pects — psychological, social, and spiritual — of living chaste and celibate
'GC 34, "Chastity in the Society of Jesus " (cited supra.)
Living Chastity *
and how such a lifestyle can promote the overall health of our vocation
and enhance the effectiveness of our ministry. To protect ourselves and,
even more important, the people we serve, we have focused almost ex-
clusively on studying various aspects of the sex-abuse crisis, especially
topics have been addressed by scholarly collections such as Bless Me Fa-
ther for I Have Sinned, Per spec-
tives on Sexual Abuse by Roman
Catholic Priests and Sin against Through the highs and lows of our
the Innocents, Sexual Abuse by vocational history, our deepest
Priests and the Role of the Catho- longings unfold. We choose this
lie Church. These studies might W e and somehow give up what
blur our grasp of what is seems impossible to give up
healthy about our experience as we "V *-° understand
of chastity and celibacy. 7 We the ebb and flow of our desires
can find ourselves responding an( * longings over time.
defensively to even our own ^»_^^^^^^«^_^^^^«^^^^^^
community discussions about
chastity and to recent efforts to monitor ourselves through explicit sex-
abuse policies and safety certification programs like Praesidium and oth-
er organizations founded to protect those in our care from abuse and to
preserve trust. And yet, researchers writing on the sex- abuse crisis la-
ment "how little we actually know about priests and their lived experi-
ences of sexuality/' 8
I propose these five experiential dimensions as an attempt to en-
gage living chastity from a practical and applied perspective. These di-
mensions are not a theology of chastity, nor do they explain why one
chooses chastity and celibacy. Rather they describe how chastity is ex-
perienced and enacted, what some of the opportunities and struggles
might be, and how our experience of chastity can enrich our Jesuit life
and ministry. To access our experience of living chastity and the feelings
that might emerge even obliquely, I use literary and case examples to il-
lustrate various aspects of these experiential dimensions and how they
so often frame both our vulnerability and God's grace.
7 Thomas G. Plante, ed., Bless Me Father for I Have Sinned: Perspectives on Sexual
Abuse by Roman Catholic Priests (Westport, Conn.: Preager Publishers, 1999); id., ed., Sin
Against the Innocents: Sexual Abuse by Priests and the Role of the Catholic Church (Westport,
Conn.: Preager Publishers, 2004).
8 John Allan Loftus, "Sexuality in Priesthood: Noli Me Tangere," in Plante, Bless
Me Father, 15.
6 % Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S J.
To provide an opportunity for a more personal self-assessment
of engaging chastity and psychosexual well-being along these experi-
ential dimensions, I suggest sets of reflection questions (clearly set off
throughout the essay) that the reader might use to engage one's person-
al experience and these dimensions self-critically The questions are also
an invitation for faith sharing, community discussions, and conversa-
tions in various settings where Jesuits want to engage in a discussion of
chastity proactively as a means of promoting our psychosexual health
and helping one another understand our experience.
I. Live Close to God and Our Deepest Desires
The novelist Fenton Johnson writes: "History is memory's skin,
under which pulses the blood and guts of our real lives. Our stories
are our way of fashioning a surface with which we can live, that we
may present to our neighbors, our friends, our family, our children. The
truth lies not in the facts of our stories but in the longings that set them
in motion." 9 The story of each Jesuit, then, reflects our common Ignati-
an spirituality, which emphasizes our deepest desires as a pathway to
God. Through the highs and lows of our vocational history, our deepest
longings unfold. We choose this life and somehow give up what seems
impossible to give up as we try to understand the ebb and flow of our
desires and longings over time.
When psychologists meet with couples in counseling, whether
they are working through a marriage crisis or more ordinary conflicts,
they often begin by asking the couple to tell them how they fell in love.
They observe how easily and comfortably couples confide their stories,
what longings are expressed in the narratives, and what feelings are
conveyed as they tell their story here and now. Psychologists explore
what the couples long for and desire from, or for, each other today. Even
when marriages are in crisis because of infidelity, the heart of the story
remains what has happened and what is happening in their primary re-
lationship with each other. The power of their personal narrative can of-
ten support the couple in times of crisis and conflict.
When Jesuits assess personal psychosexual well-being, especially
with respect to our celibate and chaste lifestyles, our efforts can parallel
much of what psychologists ask couples about marriage. We begin by
reviewing the story of our own primary relationship, that is, our rela-
9 Fenton Johnson, Scissors, Paper, Rock (New York, N.Y.: Washington Square Press,
Living Chastity *
tionship to God because our psychosexual well-being depends most of
all on the health, of this primary bond. Recall for a moment your own
vocation story. For most of us, it usually begins with a powerful long-
ing for God. Contemporary Jesuit documents on chastity clearly assert
that familiarity with God and friendship with Christ form the founda-
tion of the Jesuit's vocation and sustain his call. Over time and through
every dimension of our personal, communal, and apostolic life, Jesu-
its are called "to reverence the divine presence as the horizon in which
they live, to apprehend the immanent providence of God that draws
them into its own working for ^ _^^^^^^^^_
the salvation of human be-
ings, and to hold onto God As celibates, we are not only open
as the purpose that energizes to close and intimate connection
their work-learning thus to with others within appropriate
find God in all things."- boundaries, but over time
we will depend on the quality of
There are volumes writ- these ties to enhance our
ten on the topic of spirituals psychosexual health and
ty and how Jesuits and others maturity as chaste religious.
might experience "familiarity ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^_^^^^__
with God." Some writers ini-
tially frame the relationship from the perspective of our longing for God
while others view it from the perspective of God's longing for us. 11 For,
the celibate, such familiarity and mutuality in one's relationship with
God is especially crucial. Moreover, just as assessing mutuality in a mar-
ital relationship can be complicated and carefully nuanced, one's inti-
macy with God can be multilayered as it unfolds over the various stag-
es of Jesuit life. As in a marriage, the story of the Jesuit's relationship to
God is likely to be a narrative of highs and lows that over time can be
marked by a growing congruence, harmony, and trust. Furthermore, it
is not uncommon for religious women and men to go through periods
like a "dark night," when God seems less accessible, silent, or even ab-
sent. Psychosexual well-being in Jesuit life will depend on the Jesuit's
discerning the meaning of these highs and lows. He asks, "Where is
God?" and, "What does God want?" amid the changing circumstances
of his life following the fundamental counsel of the "Formula of the In-
10 GC 34, "Chastity in the Society of Jesus/' 119, no. 245.
11 See, for example, Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian
Spirituality (New York, N.Y.: Doubleday 1999) and William Barry S.J., A Friendship Like
No Other: Experiencing God's Amazing Embrace (Chicago, 111.: Loyola Press, 2008).
8 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J.
stitute": "Let the one who wishes to live our life 'take care, as long as he
lives, first of all, to keep before his eyes God/ " 12
The ways Jesuits rely on God can be simple and sublime. I re-
member what an aging Jesuit in my community told me about how he
found God at the beginning of each day. As he struggled daily with his
own doubts, aches, and pains, he would have never considered himself
a holy man though others did. During his battle with cancer in the last
year of his life, he said that he didn't have the patience or strength to
pray. But he explained that every morning when he struggled to get out
of bed, he would raise his hand toward heaven and ask God for a lift.
That simple gesture told me everything I needed to know about how
he expressed his familiarity with God and found God mutually reach-
ing for him.
Where is God for you today? On a scale ofl to 10, do you feel
God is as close as ever or is God now more distant, less acces-
sible, silent or even absent?
How did you first find God in your life and how did God call
you to be a Jesuit? How do you initiate, support, and sustain
this relationship and how does God initiate, support, and sus-
tain God's relationship with you?
x How has your prayer evolved over the years ?
x What are the predominant longings and desires of your cur-
x How prominent is God in those longings?
How do you rely upon or take advantage of the usual sup-
ports for our Jesuit religious life— spiritual direction, annual
retreat, prayer, faith sharing, and community liturgy?
Do you spend leisure time with God? When, how, and how of-
ten do you turn to God?
GC 34, "Chastity in the Society of Jesus," 119, no. 246.
II. Develop Broad and Deep Interpersonal Relationships
and Communities of Support
God is at the center of our promise to live as celibates, the gift of
chastity is also meant to promote our interpersonal relationships. Al-
though we are not committed to an exclusive romantic partnership nor
are we responsible for a family, we do have the opportunity to develop
relationships greater in breadth and number and more unique in inti-
macy and depth than many married people enjoy. Jesuits must remem-
ber that the pathway to God is often discovered through our human in-
teractions. As the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber writes, "Creatures
are placed in my way so that I, their fellow-creature, by means of them
and with them find the way to God. A God reached by their exclusion
would not be the God of all lives in whom all life is fulfilled. ,,13
As celibates, we are not only open to close and intimate connec-
tion with others within appropriate boundaries, but over time we will
depend on the quality of these ties to enhance our psychosexual health
and maturity as chaste religious.
To achieve this health requires that we transcend the sexual myths
of our day. In this era of Viagra and other performance enhancing medi-
cations, for instance, popular culture often reduces psychosexual well-
being to sexual function. It highlights the capacity for prolonged sex,
multiple orgasms, penis size, and sustained erections. It is not surpris-
ing that the most immediate question raised by the media about celiba-
cy and chastity is how the simple lack of sex might affect us. However,
genital contact does not guarantee intimacy. What the media fail to ex-
plore is how the lack of intimacy, the absence of the abiding friendship
of a life partner in marriage, and living without the experience of par-
enting might erode our potential for psychosexual development.
Psychological literature has long emphasized the importance of
interpersonal socialization over function as the critical component in
psychosexual well-being. Sexual desire represents the need for intimacy
and not simply genital satisfaction. Rollo May concludes: "For human
beings, the more powerful need is not for sex per se, but for relation-
ships, for intimacy, acceptance and affirmation." 14 These interpersonal
dimensions of socialization play the critical role in our psychosexual
13 Martin Buber, Between Man and Man (New York, N.Y.: Collier Books, 1965), 52.
14 Rollo May, Love and Will (New York, N.Y: W. W. Norton & Co, 1969), 311.
10 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J.
development and are available to us within the limits of celibacy and
chaste religious life.
Addressing the place of relationships in our lives is the first step
toward constructing our psychosexual identity. Contemporary psycho-
analytic literature explains how the meanings associated with these in-
teractions constitute the core of our psychosexual identity:
[H]uman sexuality is indeed psychosexuality. The concept psychosexuality
excludes a sexuality of blind instincts culminating in propagation of the spe-
cies, as in non-human organisms (though even for them this simple state-
ment is no longer really acceptable); and it excludes a sexuality simply of
erotic techniques and orgasmic adequacy Psychosexuality means mental
sexuality, that is, a sexuality of meanings and personal relationships that
have developed and been organized around real and imagined experiences
and situations in a social world. 15
True to this understanding of psychosexuality, our Catholic faith tradi-
tion and the Ignatian spirituality at the heart of our religious commit-
ment consider our interpersonal relationships and personal communi-
ties not only sources of support but embodiments of the reality of God
in our lives. The GC 34 documents on chastity emphasize that "[a]s a
true gift from above, apostolic chastity should lead to communion with
one's brother Jesuits and the people we serve." 16 The congregation also
promises, "Friendships can not only support a life of dedicated chasti-
ty but can also deepen the affective relationship with God that chastity
Such a network of relationships provides us with the intimacy
and friendship we need to thrive psychologically and spiritually. As the
writer Gregory Wolfe observes, "The effort to be fully human cannot
ultimately be undertaken in solitude." 18 One Jesuit physician describes
how the understanding of friendships in Jesuit life has evolved. He ex-
plains that, rather than thinking particular friendships threaten our
work, we have realized that unless we have healthy particular friend-
ships, individuals with whom we have an especially deep and mutual
15 Roy Schafer, "Problems in Freud's Psychology of Women," Monographs of the
Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 22 (1974): 472.
16 "Chastity in the Society of Jesus," no. 249 (p. 120).
17 Ibid, no. 261 (p. 126).
18 Gregory Wolfe, "Fully Human," Image (Winter 2008-9), 6.
Living Chastity * 11
bond, we won't be able to manage the stressors of growing old as we
give ourselves to the works of the Society. He concludes thus:
We seem to have learned that the crisis of intimacy which often character-
ized the decision by some to leave religious life can be most effectively coun-
• tered not simply by having fraternal relationships with all, but by cultivat-
ing close friendships, both inside and outside the Society, in which we can
know and be known, and in which with freedom and trust we can voice our
fears, concerns, temptations, and aspirations. 19
How do we initiate, support, and sustain our friendships?
How does the breadth of relationships that are available to us
address our need for intimacy, acceptance, and affirmation?
Have our relationships grown or diminished in quality or
number over time?
x Which relationships claim our attention and time and why?
Do these relationships include family, friends, colleagues, and
Jesuits— as well as relationships that might challenge us inter-
generationally and multi-culturally?
What is distinctive about our Jesuit relationships in friendship
Overall, are we satisfied with the relationships we enjoy—
what are we most grateful for, what would we change?
The role of relationships can be addressed more generally but
for them to be truly illuminating we should also examine them from
the very concrete perspective of how they help and support us. For ex-
ample, when work stops and a weekend or a day off approaches, the
healthy Jesuit will need to rely on friends he wants to share time with,
individuals he can invite to dinner, a movie, or some other leisure ac-
tivity. There should be someone who listens to the highs and lows of
any given week or month of his life. His community should be a home
where he can find rest and day-to-day support, understanding fellow-
ship, as well as challenge. He will want the option of spending holidays
19 Jon Fuller, S J., "Growth across the Ages: The Affective Realities," presentation
to members of the Detroit Province at their Province Days, June 8, 2001.
12 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J.
and extended vacation times in the company of others. He should ex-
pect both to initiate various social activities and to respond to invita-
tions that come his way.
When struggling with personal difficulties or illness, the Jesuit
will need to share his concerns with family, friends, and community. In
the course of ministry, there are inevitable setbacks: being passed over
for a promotion or new assignment, a rejected article or book, an unjust
or stinging performance evaluation, an illness, disability, and diminish-
^ ^ — — — — ment. Imagine the impact of
Similarly, in the Jesuit's efforts to these setbacks on morale and
love with integrity, the ways he self-esteem if there is no one
communicates his affection and Wlth whom to share the ex "
whathe promises in friendship penence of defeat, shame, or
should be supported by his life of loss and from whom one can
poverty, chastity, and obedience receive solace and support. In
and by the demands of his these circumstances, narcissis-
community and apostolic life. tic in 3 uries fester and we can
become bitter and withdrawn.
Similarly, without someone to
share our joys and successes, even peak experiences can become hollow
and meaningless. We need people with whom we can celebrate impor-
tant achievements and milestones.
The simple human solace offered by relationships is highlighted
by an ex-Jesuit reflecting on lessons he wished he would have learned
earlier in his life. As he anticipates death, he feels challenged to grasp
what he acknowledges he never learned as a priest. He hopes that the
final years of life might teach him how to "love now quite specifically,
simply, in little, everyday, faithful ways."
I was never totally present to any single relationship, nor was I really expect-
ed to be. I was always able to plead my job, my role, my being needed some-
where or by someone else. Now, if I struggle to be friend or lover, I must stay
there, with nowhere else to go. It is not an easy lesson to learn, but it is an
important one, one that seems determined before I can enter into whatever
eternal life will be. 20
Success in cultivating lasting relationships and communities of
support assumes healthy honest communication. Like all communica-
20 L. Patrick Carroll, "Faith is Not Theory, but Deepest Truth of Oneself," National
Jesuit News (February /March 2000): 14.
Living Chastity * 13
tion, what we convey to others about ourselves as priests and vowed re-
ligious must be supported with responsibility and integrity. As GC 34
cautions: "Every Jesuit must realistically recognize that he will be as ef-
fective in helping others to lead a chaste life as he himself is faithful in
leading such a life with integrity and is aware of his own inner inclina-
tions, passions, anxieties, and emotions/' 21
The sex abuse crisis has made clear that we put others at risk
when we are not clear with ourselves that some service we are provid-
ing — teaching, mentoring, coaching, spiritual direction — has become
more about meeting our own needs for intimacy. We must be vigilant
with ourselves and other community members when we are aware of
one-sided relationships that seem to be driven by the need for personal
gratification. In these situations, our "inner inclinations, passions, anxi-
eties, and emotions" should be brought into the light and directed to-
ward healing and transparency in venues that do not endanger those
we are entrusted to serve. Moreover, the role we play in these "helping"
relationships wields power and influence that need to be critically ex-
amined at every stage.
On the other hand, we also experience select relationships that
naturally evolve into lasting friendships over time. These close associa-
tions succeed because they enjoy mutually constructed meaning, clear
expectations, and reciprocity that have grown out of sharing time and
common activities appropriate to each stage of development. Most im-
portant of all, these friendships reflect a healthy sense of self that in-
cludes not only an awareness of our own needs but a respect for the
needs of the other as the relationship deepens and matures.
Many Jesuits enjoy growing friendships with colleagues, students,
parishioners, couples, and families. In the ordinary span of priestly min-
istry, it is not uncommon for a Jesuit to marry a couple, baptize their
children, perhaps even celebrate the funeral of the couple's parents, and
later preside at their child's wedding. Through such milestones, he be-
comes a part of their extended family. Similarly, as students graduate
and mature, they fondly remember the teachers who made a difference
in their lives and often claim them as lifelong friends.
Typically, the intimate relationships that populate a Jesuit's life
are quite varied: Jesuit classmates, close friends, lay colleagues, parish-
ioners, and students. In all these varied relationships, the Jesuit is called
Chastity in the Society of Jesus," 127, no. 266.
14 % Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J.
to love in a way that is true to his vows. Jesuits will express and receive
affection through a variety of gestures that include terms of endearment
and tender moments of touch and embrace. Since the Jesuit's love is not
exclusive, however, he must carefully discern what gestures and words
express to others both his love for them and his fidelity to his vows. He
should be vigilant that these gestures are received and understood as
they are intended. When sexual feelings emerge, he needs to acknowl-
edge them to himself and carefully discern their meaning and intent, so
that he doesn't hurt others, himself, or the Society by unreflective sexual
In the novel Eternity, My Beloved, Jean Sulivan writes about love
and freedom and imaginatively re-creates the relationship between St.
Francis de Sales and St. Jeanne de Chantal. He presents fragments of a
fictional letter from Francis to Jeanne that moves from phrases like "My
soul is not more dear to me than yours," to "I cherish you as my very
soul, from "I offer only one prayer for the two of us, without separation
or division," to "My dearly beloved, my life — the truth is I was about to
write 'Sweetheart/ but that is not fitting," and then finally "As soon as
my face is turned toward the altar to celebrate Mass, I no longer have
distracting thoughts; for some time now, however, you have been on
my mind, not to distract me but to attach me more strongly to God." 22
Reading between the lines, one can imagine the journey Francis travels
acknowledging his attraction and affection for Jeanne while building a
friendship that faithfully respects the integrity of his vows. When a Je-
suit travels the same journey, whether in a heterosexual relationship or
a same-sex relationship, he must carefully discern where God is calling.
In some instances, he is drawn to married life and in others he is chal-
lenged to discover the solace and grace of intimate friendship that is a
part of his Jesuit life, a bond that leads him closer to God just as the rela-
tionship with Jeanne de Chantal did for Francis de Sales, and other cel-
ebrated friendships did in the lives of the saints.
Similarly, in the Jesuit's efforts to love with integrity, the ways he
communicates his affection and what he promises in friendship should
be supported by his life of poverty, chastity, and obedience and by the
demands of his community and apostolic life. To love another within
boundaries such as these can point to the horizon of God and commu-
nity that mark a Jesuit's life. Respecting boundaries can be a profound
way of loving another, an invitation to others to a shared experience of
Jean Sulivan, Eternity, My Beloved (St. Paul, Minn.: River Boat Books, 1999), 103.
Living Chastity * 15
God and community. As the Thirty-fourth General Congregation put it,
"A love that is warmly human yet freely offered to all, especially to the
poor and marginalized, can be a powerful sign leading people to Christ,
who comes to show us what love really is, that God is love." 23 Likewise
for the Jesuit, love received from others that respects the boundaries of
his religious life can be a profound way of discovering love and encoun-
tering Christ as the one who reveals how God is in truth the love that
fills his life.
To understand psychosexuality in celibacy and religious chastity
we must explore how God, love, and lasting love contribute to more ex-
pansive meaning in our interpersonal relationships and communities of
support. As the US Bishops 7 guidelines for the liturgy remind us,
We do not come to meet Christ as if he were absent from the rest of our lives.
We come together to deepen our awareness of, and commitment to, the ac-
tion of his Spirit in the whole of our lives at every moment. We come togeth-
er to acknowledge the love of God poured out among us in the work of the
Spirit, to stand in awe and praise. 24
Our more powerful need is not for sex but for loving interperson-
al and communal relationships that do not come to an end but extend
into eternity. As celibates and religious, we hope love will always be
with us. Our psychosexual well-being is ultimately tied to our faith and
x What permanent loving relationships do we claim for our-
selves? How do we attend to them and grow them? How do
we understand these friendships and hold on to them?
x Do the people we love know what place they have in our lives?
How do we tell them? How do we hear and receive their re-
x What names do we give to these relationships?
23 "Chastity in the Society of Jesus," 116, no. 237.
24 Secretariat of Divine Worship, "Music in Catholic Worship," United States Con-
ference of Catholic Bishops, no. 2.
16 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S J.
When appropriate, how do we move from the role of pastoral
minister, mentor, or teacher to personal friendship? Are our
friendships accidental or intentional?
What claims do our various relationships make on us while re-
specting our vows ?
How are differences in these relationships, especially with re-
spect to boundaries, negotiated and resolved?
How are our spirituality and community life ways of holding
onto the range of relationships we enjoy, and especially those
that we dearly love?
III. Ask for Love, Nurture Others, and Negotiate
"Do you love me?" (John 21:15)
In a homily to our community, a brother Jesuit told the story of
accompanying his mother through the ravages of advanced dementia
and the final stages of her life. His story illustrates how we sometimes
find ourselves asking others how we are loved. Sitting at her bedside
in what he considered a playful moment, he asked "Mom, do you love
me?" To his surprise, she answered clearly; "Yes, I love you!" And so he
asked, "How much do you love me?" And raising her hands and arms
in a wide, outreaching gesture, she replied, "I love you as much as could
be in the world!"
Healthy interpersonal and sexual development requires that we
learn how to ask the question this Jesuit posed to his mother: "Do you
love me?" At significant moments throughout the span of our lives,
priests and religious will need to ask God and the people of God, "Do
you love me?" because it is both the nature of human development and a
core tenet of our faith that we are loved first. "We love because God first
loved us" (1 John 4:19). For years before any of us could voice this ques-
tion, we asked it indirectly in all the ways we looked to others for assis-
tance and attention. The vulnerability we experience in asking for help
and for love can be so powerful that we often defend ourselves against
reaching out at all, convincing ourselves that we can live without the
love we need to thrive. Celibacy and chastity can breed an unhealthy
self-sufficiency when community members ask for help from one an-
Living Chastity % 17
other or others only in extreme circumstances, if at all. Not infrequently,
Jesuits do not develop the capacity for asking for another's care, even
in small ways. If we cannot ask for assistance from our community or
friends for small favors, a ride to the airport or company for dinner and
a show, we certainly can't impose on them during times of dire need,
transport to the hospital in the middle of the night, or assistance when
we are unable to care for ourselves. And so, we put ourselves at risk of
constructing a life of considerable loneliness and isolation.
From its foundation, however, the Society has emphasized the im-
portance of affective connection and challenged the isolation so com-
mon among many of its members. Our union of minds and hearts is
meant to be real. As the Society has declared, "It is our community-life
ideal that we should be not only fellow workers in the apostolate but
truly brothers and friends in Christ/' 25 Indeed, in a letter to St. Ignatius
from India, St. Francis Xavier responds with profound emotion to senti-
ments expressed by his friend Ignatius. He writes as follows:
And among the many other very saintly words and consolations which I
read in your letter were these last, which said: "Eternally yours, without my
being able to forget you at any time, Ignatius"; and, just as I then read them
with tears, so I am now writing these with tears, as I recall times past and
the great love which you have ever had and still have, for me; and as I also
reflect upon the many toils and dangers from which God our Lord freed me
through the intercession of your Charity's holy prayers. 26
Friendship in the Society should offer Jesuits the opportunity to devel-
op a range of relationships that communicate varying levels of intimacy
and trust, including some that might approximate the intense friend-
ship between Ignatius, Xavier, and the first companions.
Developing such intimacy among men is not the usual experience
of males in our culture and is challenging for Jesuits whatever their
sexual orientation might be. Heterosexual and homosexual Jesuits will
both need to discover how this closeness and vulnerability can be real-
ized as a gift of our community life and a healthy expression of living
25 "Fostering Union in the Society," Part VIII of The Constitutions of the Society of Je-
sus and Their Complementary Norms (St. Louis, Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996), 317-43.
26 "To Father Ignatius of Loyola, in Rome," in The Letters and Instructions of Francis
Xavier (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1992), 344, no. 97.
18 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, SJ.
chastity. Perhaps this is one way we accept the invitation that "Jesuit
community is not just for mission; it is itself mission." 27
Where do we find the strength to be so vulnerable as to ask for
the help and love we need from one another, family friends, and ex-
tended community? Perhaps we can find courage from the pastoral
conversations we've experienced throughout the years from others who
found the courage to voice these concerns to us. We have so often lis-
tened to people ask how they find love: "Do my parents love me?" "Will
they still love me if I pursue
my dreams instead of theirs?"
Jeronimo Nadal highlights the "Does my spouse love me —
charism of the Society: "The even as I age and experience
Society cares for those persons for diminishment in mind and
whom no one will care or who are body?" "Do my children love
neglected. This is the fundamental me?" "What stops me from
reason for the founding of the telling them how much I love
Society, this is its power, this is its them?" "What do I have to do
dignity in the Church/' to be worthy of their love?"
^^^^^^^^_^__^^^^^^^^_ "Will they still love me if they
knew about everything I've
told you?" Just as parents, children, spouses, and friends seek reassur-
ance from one another that their love is understood and taken seriously,
so also priests and religious need reassurance about their love. For all
that we can control, whatever power we have forged, love is a gift and
so too is our freedom to ask for love. In our unique circumstances, our
well-being depends on growing confidence that we are loved by God
and others and that we can continue to hope for as much love in our
lives as possible.
Even after his resurrection Jesus asks Peter, "Do you love me?"
Three times Jesus asks because he knows just how much Peter needs to
be healed and that such healing would only come by Peter's engaging
this question. Like Peter, in our prayer we can also imagine ourselves
hearing Jesus say to us, "Do you love me?" And, like Peter, we probably
also respond, "Yes; yes of course; yes, don't you know?" But Jesus knows
he must pose the question again and again. He isn't embarrassed to ask
and with persistence and patience invites Peter and all of us into a new
life of engagement — "Feed my lambs." So too, when we say yes to Jesus
27 "Challenges to Our Mission Today: Sent to the Frontiers/' in The Decrees of Gen-
eral Congregation 35 (Washington, D.C.: Jesuit Conference, 2008), 32, no. 4.
Living Chastity * 19
or to someone else who asks for our love, we likely do not grasp imme-
diately what this yes entails and how this commitment can transform us.
Over and over again, we search for the love that can sustain us not only
in the ordinary moments of our lives but especially at times of crisis.
When those crises come, our well-being could depend on how well
we have learned to ask others, "Do you love me?" Such moments of cri-
sis also offer important opportunities. As the novelist John UHeureux
reminds us, "God sanctifies us — he makes us saints — in his own way.
Not in our way. It never looks like sanctity to us. It looks like madness,
or failure, or even sin." 28 Precisely when we feel as if we have failed or
sinned terribly, the same Jesus who transformed the once wayward Pe-
ter enters our lives in the most unexpected ways and heals us in our
darkness. For "sometimes, in that darkness, there is a single act of love,
some selfless gesture, an aspiration, and we see that it's not been all
waste, all hopeless, and we can . . . well ... go on." 29
The following reflection describes a familiar scenario in Jesu-
it community that most of us have witnessed or perhaps even experi-
enced ourselves: "I have never been good at asking for help or support.
I have been in the core of myself a loner, getting friendship and affection
on my own terms." 30 Recognizing this tendency in himself as sin and
perhaps even collective sin in the Society of Jesus, this writer recognizes
that where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. He concludes:
But now, broken and alone, I need and ask, often, and in agony, for love. I am
amazed at how easily some come and just be present. I am equally amazed
at how others shy away, resist, and, not knowing what to say or do, do noth-
ing. Some I have known for years look the other way in my presence. Others,
known well or slightly, seek out, and knock, to find how I'm doing. There is
almost no middle. 31
"Do you love me?" is the foundational question of our human devel-
opment, our psychosexual well-being, and our spirituality. We Jesuits
readily acknowledge that "we are sinners called by God." As one Jesuit
explained to me, "In my life my vocation is God's greatest act of mercy"
And yet what we are less ready to confess is that the question "Do you
28 John UHeureux, The Shrine at Altamira (New York, N.Y.: Grove Press, 1999), 238.
29 Ibid v 239.
30 Carroll, "Faith Is Not Theory/' 14.
31 Ibid., 14.
20 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J.
love me?" is one we never outgrow although we may forget to ask it
clearly or deceive ourselves into believing we are beyond it. Here, again
and again, we find the core of our humanity and a pathway to God
holding fast to our confession: 'Tor we do not have a high priest who is
unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly
been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach
the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help"
x Who are the people in our lives— Jesuits, family, or friends —
that we feel we can depend upon for help in small, everyday
matters and in times of great need?
x When and how do we ask God and others for the love and sup-
port we need?
x How do we avoid asking the question "Do you love me?"
x How do we trust God and those who love us with the good and
the had of our lives, the light and the darkness?
x Do we allow the love of others to free us from sin and shame?
Do we hope for as much love in our lives as we can possibly
"Feed My Lambs" (John 21:15)
We are called to see and love the world as Jesus did. In the words
of the latest general congregation,
Fundamental for the life and mission of every Jesuit's mission is an experi-
ence that places him, quite simply, with Christ at the heart of the world. This
experience is not merely a foundation laid in the past and ignored as time
moves on; it is alive, ongoing, nourished, and deepened by dynamic Jesuit
life in community and on mission. 32
And so, we journey with Christ responding to his invitation 'Teed my
lambs." At the heart of the Jesuit's vocation is the promise to love God
and neighbor, to be a servant as Christ was a servant. We freely open our-
GC 35, "Seeing and Loving the World," no. 4 (p. 18).
Living Chastity * 21
selves to all dimensions of human struggle, to the suffering and needs of
individuals and communities. We choose a life of generosity, especially
to those in greatest need. Jeronimo Nadal highlights the charism of the
Society: 'The Society cares for those persons for whom no one will care
or who are neglected. This is the fundamental reason for the founding of
the Society, this is its power, this is its dignity in the Church." n
The interpersonal dialogue between Jesus and Peter also reflects
the dialogue between us and a world that hopes for our love in re-
turn. Like all of us, the poor, the hungry, the oppressed ask directly and
obliquely, "Do you love me?" Through them the Lord is inviting us to
engage the world in justice and love. When we have the courage to say
yes to the struggles of the world, we discover that its suffering lives not
so much outside of us as within our own hearts. When we heal the lone-
liness and pain of others, we also heal our own. The commission of Je-
sus to Peter, "Feed my lambs," tells us what we most need to remember
about our ministry. Chaste and celibate love needs to respond in order
to find itself whole. Jesus instructs us that the meaning of our lives is
about nurturing one another, that love cannot be complete in a vacuum.
And following Christ, our love is not about our own gratification, but
rather about responding more and more to those in greatest need just as
Jesus did when he responded to our need for love. And the love we of-
fer others is the love we have received.
Our apostolic work and its various ministries express our love for
God and the people of God. Fr. Arrupe encourages linking our deepest
desires to what we do in what has become one of his most celebrated
Nothing is more practical than rinding God, that is, falling in love in a quite
absolute final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagina-
tion will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the
morning, what you do with your weekends, what you read, who you know,
what breaks your heart and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in
love, stay in love, and it will decide everything. 34
33 Jeronimo Nadal, Orationis Observationes, vol. 90a of the Monumenta Historica
Societatis Iesu: "Societas curam habet earum animarum de quibus vel nullus est qui cu-
ret vel, si quis debet curare, is negligenter curat. Haec est ratio institutionis Societatis,
haec virtus, haec dignitas in Ecclesia" (126, no. 316).
34 Kevin R Burke, S.J., ed., Pedro Arrupe: Essential Writings (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Or-
bis Books, 2004), 8.
22 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S J.
Our psychosexual well-being will be reflected in our work for others
and in how we manage the attachments that we form along the way.
Jesuits often remember with special fondness their first extend-
ed apostolic experiences during the regency period of their formation.
I recall an essay by T. J. Martinez, S.J., entitled 'The Jesuit's Calling: A
Heartbroken Vocation (or Emotional Investments)/' 35 Writing in the Na-
tional Jesuit News, he candidly describes the love he felt for his students
and the realization that this love would also be the source of his pain as
he left them. He remembers how honored he was to be invited to speak
at their baccalaureate breakfast, and how he was moved to tell them
what he'd been trying to tell them all year: that he loved them. He un-
derstands that "a total investment of love and the pain of letting go are
part of what a Jesuit vocation is all about and sits in distinction from
more typical understandings of love." The anguish that we experience
is not a sign that our attempts to love have failed but rather that "we
have, in fact, succeeded." Martinez concludes, "It simply demonstrates
that we do indeed, with God's grace, have the ability to love others or
another with great emotion and depth without succumbing to exclu-
sivity or reacting to it with insensitivity." This poignant and insightful
description of how Jesuits love others "with great emotion and depth"
while still being ready to "move on when the time comes" applies not
only to these first apostolic experiences in Jesuit formation but hope-
fully to the growing network of interpersonal relations and communi-
ties of support that a Jesuit moves through in the course of his evolving
How is loving and being loved played out every day of our
Do we have some sense of expectation each new day or even
most days about how we will express our love?
x To whom are we giving our lives in love and service?
x Can we recognize when others are asking for our love?
35 T. J. Martinez, S.J., "The Jesuit's Calling: A Heartbroken Vocation (or Emotional
Investments)/' National Jesuit News 33 (October 2003): 6.
Living Chastity % 23
x In our lives and ministry, who and what challenges us to love
more generously, perhaps even to ''lay down our lives"?
"Follow me" (John 21:19)
The capacity both to develop loving attachments and to separate
from them is critical to psychosexual development for everyone and
most especially for those whose lifestyle requires distance and separa-
tion from loved ones. As psychologists who study psychosexual devel-
opment explain, inherent in our experience of love throughout the life
span is the negotiation between two great human longings. 36 One is the
longing to merge with others: to be a part of, joined with, close to, held,
and accompanied. The other is the longing to be separate: independent,
autonomous, apart, my own person. Our social and interpersonal life
is experienced as the variable tension between the longing to merge
and the longing to separate. Making love is the paradigmatic example
of merging with another while delighting in the other's separateness;
the fascination with the other is that the other is not me but somehow
merged with me. Even in relationships where our sexual feelings are not
primary, the intimate attachments of our lives will reflect this tension of
loving, holding on, and letting go.
To negotiate this delicate balance throughout one's life span re-
quires great care. As children, we begin to merge at home with parents
but soon separate from them and turn to significant others and host
cultures: our school peers, close friends, first loves, life partners, pro-
fessional guild, community, and the world at large. Early intimate rela-
tionships prepare us for future ones of greater complexity, breadth and
depth. While these longings might appear to be in conflict with one an-
other, they are meant to be harmoniously related to one another. In ev-
ery significant relationship, there are very real ways we merge with and
depend on the other. At the same time there are also very real ways that
we internalize relationships and move on.
How successfully or unsuccessfully this balance is negotiated be-
fore one enters religious life and ministry will certainly impact one's
ability to engage interpersonal relationships. One might imagine that
people who enjoy connection with others would be drawn to religious
36 Robert Kegan, The Evolving Self: Problem and Process in Human Development
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982), 113.
24 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J.
life and ministry because of the attractiveness of community life and a
sense of oneness with the people of God. On the other hand, those who
prefer separateness could be attracted to religious life and ministry be-
cause of the contemplative nature and solitude of this spiritual lifestyle.
Mature psychosexual well-being assumes a reasonable balance in both
yearnings, and ideally men who enter religious life and ministry are ca-
pable of achieving this balance.
Moreover, continuing psychosexual development in religious life
and ministry will depend on how successfully interpersonal ties are es-
tablished and internalized, while allowing for the separateness and mo-
bility that are inherent in this apostolic life. Each separation in religious
life prepares the way for the next with the possibility that our unre-
solved or bitter feelings will carry over as well. It is not surprising that
the first vocation crisis in religious formation often centers around the
realization that apostolic life and openness to mission can entail pain-
ful separation from people we have grown to love and necessitate es-
tablishing fresh relationships in their place as we move to a new as-
signment at a distant parish, school, or community. Another ongoing
challenge is the departure of cherished companions from our commu-
nities, a loss that leaves us feeling abandoned and alone. These various
separations foreshadow as well the ultimate challenge of coping with
the death of family, loved ones, and even our own death.
The challenge of our various separations and departures can make
us question whether we are suited for a life that has proved to be more
unsettled than we realized. If we choose to persevere, we must guard
against coping with separation by withdrawing from others and inten-
tionally or unintentionally diminishing the intimacy and love we allow
ourselves to experience. In the very real struggle between merger and
separation, spiritual and psychosexual well-being intersect in religious
life. In these moments, we recall Jesus asking not only, "Do you love
me?" but also his caution "When you grow old you will stretch out your
hands, and somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where
you would rather not go" (John 21:18). This warning can help us trust
that Jesus understands the painful reality of separation. In our solitude,
we can also hear Jesus inviting, "Follow me." And our "Yes, Lord, you
know I love you" takes on a poignancy and depth we had not initially
As one writer explains, "The sexual life of a celibate person is go-
ing to manifest itself primarily in the affective bonds of permanent and
Living Chastity * 25
steadfast human friendships which are exemplifications of God's way
of loving/' 37 And yet our relationships are formed by respecting the
boundaries of living chaste and celibate, which often include the pain-
ful challenge of distance from those we love. Solitude can point us to-
ward God. And so, we learn to rely upon spiritual practices like prayer
and liturgy, also expressions of God's way of loving, as our way of hold-
ing on to these cherished relationships in God's presence and directing
God's providence to those we love. In God and with God's grace, we
express our gratitude and voice our concerns for the permanence and
steadfastness of these relationships.
How have we found it possible to develop such strong attach-
ments and love for others only to he separated from them over
and over again ?
How do we cope with the pain of separation in ways that pro-
mote acceptance and healing rather than resentment and with-
Looking at our history of assignments and change, how have
we been affected by the separations and departures we've expe-
rienced? Are we growing in our capacity to sustain broad and
deep relationships or has this capacity diminished over time?
What relationships remain still unresolved or what needs heal-
ing for us to continue to choose life and love wholeheartedly?
How are prayer and the sacraments a way of ritualizing, re-
newing, and making the grace of the relationships we enjoy
ever more explicit?
IV. Cope with Stress and Recognize Destructive Patterns of
An important part of any person's journey is coping with stress,
especially if it is understood in its broadest and most human terms.
Stress is strain, frustration, suffering, anger, pain, sadness, distress,
37 Donald Goergen, The Sexual Celibate (New York, N.Y.: Doubleday and Co.,
26 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J.
anxiety, worry, and /or depression in all its various manifestations and
combinations. Despite its ubiquitous presence in our lives, stress can
be difficult to identify To get at its source, we can ask ourselves, "What
worries us?" or even more to the point, "What has hurt us?" What hurts
or worries us becomes apparent in a variety of ways. Behaviorally we
might turn to alcohol, drugs, food, or sex for solace and comfort. We
can become lethargic and withdrawn or desperately reckless. Physi-
cal manifestations might include anxiety, arousal, sleeplessness, and ex-
haustion; we can find ourselves prone to recurring somatic illnesses,
mysterious viral maladies, flu and flulike symptoms, and even accident
proneness. Cognitively, we might be preoccupied with rigid and obses-
sive thoughts and ruminations. Our wishes and impulses can become
markedly self-destructive and even suicidal or aggressively violent and
homicidal. We might be aware of vague to intense feelings of guilt, help-
lessness, hopelessness, anger, or depression. Our worries and hurt bend
our backs and burden our hearts. The stress we experience has the po-
tential to impair our lives significantly.
As celibates and religious, we may find our stress compounded by
the particular circumstances of our religious life and ministry. Consider
how the story of "Martin" reflects a common experience of general mal-
aise. Martin has been a Jesuit for more than twenty-five years and has en-
joyed considerable success in his ministry. He has had several positions
of leadership and most recent-
ly was appointed president of
Our very vocation is a the local Jesuit high school. Re-
countercultural eschewing of cently a faculty member con-
a stress-free lifestyle, and it fided in him that he was trou-
encourages the kind of human bled by his marriage, worried
growth that is marked by that the passion between him
vulnerability, solidarity, and an d his wife had diminished
compassion as opposed to self- over the years to the point that
protection, self-promotion, and he was spending extra time at
self-preservation. school to avoid going home.
^___^ ^_^__^^___^_ He is worried that they remain
married for the sake of their
children and wonders what will happen to them next year when their
youngest child leaves their home. As Martin listens to him, he is aware
that he has similarly ambivalent feelings about his priesthood and com-
munity life. He increasingly uses social and school engagements as an
excuse to be absent from a community life that in his view has grown
Living Chastity * 27
boring and routine. Sometimes he wonders whether he is simply go-
ing through the motions, especially at liturgy, where his homilies have
lost their freshness and edge. As Martin encourages his colleague not to
be afraid to explore the depths of his malaise, carefully weigh all his op-
tions, and find the path to restoring his hope, he realizes he should listen
to his own advice.
Like dissatisfaction in a marriage, stress in celibate and religious
life can grow out of ambivalence towards the lifestyle itself and feel-
ings of being trapped in circumstances that seem impossible to change.
Celibacy was once perceived as promoting one's relationship to God,
encouraging greater freedom and availability in pastoral work, build-
ing broad and deep loving relationships, facilitating prophetic advo-
cacy in social justice, or reflecting the power and fidelity of God's re-
lationship to the human community. But now it may be experienced
as overwhelming deprivation. This mental attitude leads to deepening
feelings of helplessness and hopelessness within religious life. As sever-
al observers have noted, when one cannot acknowledge deeply felt sex-
ual frustration, " sexuality takes on a life of its own, unreal and fantasy
driven." 38 Moreover, "Unmet needs, denial, pain — in short, the personal
things that are unpleasant to deal with — get buried. Unfortunately, they
do not fade, they fester." 39 And over time, one's sexuality and sexual be-
havior becomes dissociated. Adams explains this statement:
Since sexuality does not become integrated in the priest's identity, sexual
impulses are now strewn with feelings of resentment, loss, and entitlement
that produce a tension that leads to compulsive, and sometimes violating,
discharge. Its expression is dissociated from the value system of the moral,
governing self. 40
Finally, such perceived deprivation, deepening helplessness, and un-
acknowledged turmoil make one prone to sexual misconduct, looking
for identity and healing through sexual contact. 41
38 Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Boundaries (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zonder-
van, 1992), 214.
39 Robert Hemfelt, Frank Minirth, and Paul Meir, Love Is a Choice (Nashville, Term:
Thomas Nelson, 1989), 165.
40 Adams, "Clergy Sex Abuse," 92.
41 Laura Nelson, "Sexual Addiction versus Sexual Anorexia and the Church's Im-
pact," Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention 10, nos.
2-3 (2003): 183.
28 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J.
When one feels trapped in any commitment, whether in mar-
riage or in religious life, one is easily prone to consciously or uncon-
sciously absolve oneself from responsibility for straying from fidelity
to that commitment. Just as the choice to remain faithful is not ours,
___^^_^^^_^^^^^_ <B— ^_ neither is the choice to stray.
^ . , ~ , . It's not surprising then to wit-
The experience of God in a , . ^
fjt ji • i-i j i *.*. ness what so often seems pa-
hfe of celibacy and chastity . \, ,, , J ,
J , J s J , r tently reckless and scandal-
finds powerful expression in i , ,
J r . i • - . j ous behavior amone people
our sacramental ministry and , , ,, . ° r r .
, . f ,. ~ i - .i who have affairs or engage in
homiletics. Conversely, in the ^ ., , . ..,..'.
v other self-destructive activi-
same sacraments we deepen our L ^ , i i
. iT ^ , ,\, . ties such as we ve observed
encounter with God and this , „
, , .... - A over and over again m well-
mutual dynamic is mst as it , ,. L . P ..
, i j i known political figures as
should be. „ F °
well as clergy.
Repression and de-
nial of conflicts involving chastity promote feelings of guilt and gener-
ate dissatisfaction with religious life and ministry. In the wake of the
sex-abuse scandals, one psychologist highlights the extraordinary con-
tradiction of this unhealthy cycle.
[J]ust as food addicts will purge after overeating, people can binge sexually
and then purge by sexual self -hatred. The denial of sensual feelings, how-
ever, ends up strengthening them; it is out of this that the binge-purge cycle
grows. An example of this is a pastor who preaches against pornography
and infidelity, only to end up being involved in a huge scandal due to his or
her sexual behavior. These people feel a tremendous amount of shame and
struggle with accepting God's love for them, sensing that God has forgiven
others but not them. 42
Less extreme examples of repression and denial are people who might
take pride in tuning out their body for years, not paying any- attention
to their sexual desires or, for that matter, their general appearance, their
health or fitness.
By contrast, healthy celibacy and chastity promote the integration
of the sexual and spiritual dimensions of a person's life and do not rely
on the denial or repression of sexuality. 43 Whatever one's sexual orien-
42 Ibid v 184.
43 Goergen, Sexual Celibate, 74.
Living Chastity * 29
tation might be — heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual — one's sexual self
and attractions need to be identified and embraced, loved and under-
stood over and over again so that living chastity is a free and conscious
choice. Writing on developing appropriate intervention strategies for
priests and religious, Gregoire and Jungers emphasize that "[t]he dyna-
mism of celibacy means that it is a lived process, a choice that is made
daily, time and again throughout a priest's life." 44 Living chastity will
entail reframing unhealthy perspectives on celibacy and time and again
identifying the positive effects of living chaste and celibate.
To what extent do we feel committed to chastity and celibacy as
a personal choice?
What evokes feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and depri-
vation in our lives and how do we respond to these feelings?
What time and care do we give to our health, diet, exercise, per-
sonal appearance, rest, and recreation?
What contributes to our sense of pride and purpose in who we've
become and how celibacy and chastity have shaped our lives?
An essential part of Jesuit ministry under the standard of the cross
has been to expect suffering and to risk suffering ourselves. Today, a
part of this suffering may well be collateral shame or damage from the
sex-abuse crisis. Most of us have felt considerable pain and humiliation
in the past few years, but our spiritual tradition offers considerable re-
sources for enduring hardship. Our very vocation is a countercultural
eschewing of a stress-free lifestyle, and it encourages the kind of hu-
man growth that is marked by vulnerability, solidarity, and compassion
as opposed to self -protection, self -promotion, and self-preservation. In
an effort to follow Christ with generosity and inner freedom, we try to
work against the very human proclivity to stay with what is safe and se-
cure, to keep our distance, and to run and hide from people in pain and
^ocelyn Gregoire and Chrissy Jungers, "Understanding the Culture of Celibacy
for the Treatment of Priests and Religious," Sexual Addiction & Comvulsivity: The Journal
of Treatment and Prevention 10, nos. 2-3 (2003): 175.
30 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J.
need. And so, our way of understanding suffering is not the world's
way; we are not about fashioning stress-free lives or taking care of our-
selves as ends in themselves. We take care of ourselves so that we can
continue the journey with Christ and continue to be men on mission. In
religious life, we must learn how to cope with the hardship not only in
our own lives but in the lives of others we encounter in ministry. Over
the years, we will experience sadness and frustration as we witness the
suffering of others and face associated justice concerns that are increas-
ingly complex and burdensome.
In addition to coping with the stress related to our lifestyle and
ministry, there are the usual varieties of ordinary life events that can
burden us: personal illness or misfortune, interpersonal conflicts, fami-
ly struggles, aging, the death of loved ones. From time to time, friends,
family, or the Society will in-
evitably disappoint and even
"Out of the 'wreck' of our hurt us. And so, independent-
disfigured, misshapen selves, so ly or cumulatively we can be
darkened by shame and disgrace, stressed by our lifestyle, min-
indeed 'the Lord comes to us istry, and ordinary life trau-
disguised as ourselves.' And we mas and find ourselves in pain
don't grow into this— we just and searching for solace. Dur-
learn to pay better attention." ing these times of distress, we
_ ^ _^_^_ need to be especially vigilant
that we do not use sex as a way
of altering mood or as an escape. Along with other forms of gratification
or socially isolating activities like extended television viewing, engag-
ing in sexual fantasies, various forms of internet pornography, and sex-
ually acting out can be ways of coping with sadness by medicating our
pain and suffering. 45
Rather, we need to be aware of what we would consider healthy
self-solacing activities and other constructive coping strategies that re-
lieve our suffering. An important first step would be to acknowledge
our pain and share it with friends, members of our community, spiri-
tual director, therapist, and God. We need to allow ourselves the oppor-
tunity to actively grieve personal loss, disappointment, and failure and
to find solace in activities that are deeply renewing and recreative. We
should identify positive interactions that can counteract negative inter-
actions in our lives, activities that provide us with the rest, relaxation,
45 Nelson, "Sexual Addiction versus Sexual Anorexia," 181.
Living Chastity * 31
and renewal we need, and people with whom we want to share these
activities. Proactively, there should be periods of decompression in ev-
ery day and times set aside for prayer, exercise, rest, and recreation at
regular intervals in our lives. Over the long haul, we need accessible
communities of support that we can turn to in times of personal crisis
Moreover, our experience of suffering can be understood in the
light of our faith and open us to the reality of the human condition, the
discovery of God's world, and God's reach into our world. So often it
is at the worst moments in people's lives and the worst places in our
world we discover not only God but "us" before God, not just me. Per-
haps what we discover is that it is more important to hold life — in all of
its depth, breadth, and height — rather than control it. And so, we follow
God into God's world because no part of the world is lost to God's love.
Describing the pain chastity might entail in the life of a Jesuit, GC
34 soberly cautions: "There will be times when this solitude will be-
come a desert, as he experiences little or no satisfaction or support in
what is around him; at other times, it may even become the cross, the
experience of futility, anguish and death." 46 During these periods of cri-
sis and pain, our struggles should be interpreted first and foremost in
the context of our relationship to God and our Jesuit vocation. Recall Fr.
Arrupe's prayer as he shouldered his crippling illness and approached
More than ever I find myself in the hands of God.
This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth.
But now there is a difference; the initiative is entirely with God.
It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel
myself so totally in God's hands 47
To whom do we turn when the tragic situations in our ministry
leave us disappointed in God, when God is less than we hoped
Chastity in the Society of Jesus/' 117, 242.
47 Pedro Arrupe, S.J., "In the Hands of God," in Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits,
edited by Michael Harter, SJ. (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1993), 66.
32 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S J.
God would be? Or when we are disappointed in ourselves and
we are less than we hoped we would be?
How might the suffering we are exposed to on a regular basis
be contagious ?
What are the solacing activities and constructive coping strate-
gies that we depend on in times of stress?
Does our community make us aware of the resources available
to us in times of crisis?
Do we trust that the community will offer us the therapy and
treatment we might need and do we have the freedom to ask for
other means of support that would promote our healing and
Do we trust ourselves to the care and guidance of superiors
and cohorts as problems and conflicts emerge and even before
they develop into crisis? How do they communicate to us their
openness to help?
How does our discernment benefit from engaging our spiritual
exercises and spiritual direction ?
V. Celebrate the Holy in the Company of Jesus
Living celibate and chaste can promote both a deepening relation-
ship with God and the people of God. Psychosexual well-being in Jesuit
life is ultimately linked to spiritual development and its apostolic ex-
pression. From a very human and pastoral perspective, growing capac-
ity for broad and deep relationships as well as the growing sensitivity
and compassion to sustain them are invaluable supports to the priestly
ministry of service and community building. And from a more explic-
itly spiritual perspective, these pastoral and personal relationships give
us privileged insight into how God's people discover Christ's presence
and love in their lived experience. We are able to journey with others
and at their invitation often help them observe and name the grace that
unfolds in their lives.
The experience of God in a life of celibacy and chastity finds pow-
erful expression in our sacramental ministry and homiletics. Converse-
ly, in the same sacraments we deepen our encounter with God and this
mutual dynamic is just as it should be. As the U.S. bishops observe re-
garding liturgical celebrations, "People in love make signs of love, not
Living Chastity * 33
only to express their love but also to deepen it. Love never expressed
dies. Christians' love for Christ and for one another and Christians' faith
in Christ and in one another must be expressed in the signs and symbols
of celebration or they will die." 48 These signs and symbols have tremen-
dous power, and we are privileged to live in such close contact with the
consolation they offer. Reflect-
ing on her experience of pray-
ing with her family at her hus- Later as we cope with the distance
band's deathbed and again and separation from loved ones
with family and friends at his that are inevitably part of our
funeral, one woman expressed apostolic lives and celebrate the
her appreciation for the pasto- "signs and symbols" that promise
ral care she experienced: "Sac- Q love that never ends,
raments have a way of inviting we discover the solace
the deepest needs and fears and comfort of God's Spirit
and longings of others out __
into the open, where they can
be acknowledged, held, and ultimately offered up for healing. Sacra-
ments create a safe space for humans to meet God, to 'taste and see that
the Lord is good.'" We learn to understand and name the needs, fears,
and longing of others in ministry when we journey with them along the
way. Similarly, we learn from others who have shared our journey. In
this shared search for God with us, we dare to name the holy.
As we prepare to celebrate the sacraments, we're also ministered
to in the sacramental moments of ordinary life. During my first pasto-
ral summer after ordination, I was working in a poor inner-city parish
learning from a much-beloved pastor how to serve the people of God.
It was impossible to go anywhere with him without someone waving
or stopping to say hello. I was never with him at a restaurant or coffee
shop when he paid. Either parishioners insisted on treating him or the
host or owners would refuse his money. As I worked alongside him, I
began to see why he was so loved. He was personally present to every
dimension of his parish's life and to every member, those at the center
and at the margins. Every night the police scanner would play in the
background of the rectory. One Saturday night there was a tragic house
fire in the parish. He was one of the first persons at the scene of the fire.
He witnessed a three-year-old boy trapped on an upper floor. The boy's
father had been frantically rushing in and out of the building guiding
Secretariat of Divine Worship, no. 4.
34 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S J.
his wife and other children out of the wooden structure. Before the fa-
ther could return for the boy, his young son appeared at the window
with flames visible behind him. His father called to him to jump. The
young boy fearfully announced that he was too scared, that he couldn't
see his father or anything else through the smoke. His father spoke to
him firmly and with longing: "Son, do not worry, do not be afraid. I can
see you. I can see your And with trust in his father's voice and gaze, the
young boy jumped to safety. The next morning at Sunday liturgy, our
pastor recounted this compelling human story in his homily, reminding
his congregation of the love and connection of the families gathered in
their midst and the love and connection of their God that held them in
his gaze even at times they could not see him.
This pastor's homily is an example of how as priests and ministers
we are called to name the grace in people's lives and the communities
we serve, to seek and find God in all things. At our recent General Con-
gregation 35, we were reminded that finding the divine at the depths of
reality is a mission of hope given to us as Jesuits. We are called to travel
again the path taken by Ignatius and find that space of interiority where
God works in us. As the congregation explains:
Our mode of proceeding is to trace the footprints of God everywhere, know-
ing that the Spirit of Christ is at work in all places and situations and in all
activities and mediations that seek to make him more present in the world.
This mission of attempting "to feel and to taste" (sentir y gustar) the presence
and activity of God in all the persons and circumstance of the world places
us Jesuits at the center of tension pulling us both to God and to the world at
the same time. Thus arises, for Jesuits on mission, a set of polarities, Ignatian
in character, that accompanies our being firmly rooted in God at all times,
while simultaneously being plunged into the heart of the world. 49
I am reminded of the well-known ministry of a member of my own
province in East Los Angeles. In a book he's writing about his ministry
with gang members, he explains that the "containers" for the stories of
his ministry are his homilies: "As a Jesuit for 36 years and a priest for 24
years, it would not be possible for me to present these stories apart from
God, Jesus, compassion, kinship, redemption, mercy, and our common
delight in each other." Through these stories and the hearts that hold
and voice them, he tries to "simply alter how we've come to think that
some lives matter less than other lives." As he has lived so faithfully and
'GC 35, "Our Way of Proceeding," 8 (p. 19).
Living Chastity * 35
intimately with these companions, he concludes: "Out of the 'wreck'
of our disfigured, misshapen selves, so darkened by shame and dis-
grace, indeed 'the Lord comes to us disguised as ourselves/ And we
don't grow into this — we just learn to pay better attention. The 'no-mat-
ter-whatness' of God breaks through the toxicity of shame and tender
mercy holds us as never before." 50 And so, in all-too-often impossible
and tragic circumstances, he names the holy for them, for himself, and
for us. And we see the world differently. In his life of solidarity and the
lives of others who live similarly engaged lives, living chaste and celi-
bate clearly contributes to how they are able to know and love the peo-
ple of God so completely. Their witness and stories of solidarity invite
us to do likewise.
Called by God, we begin our religious lives longing to follow God
faithfully. As we engage the people of God, over time we discover chas-
tity is God's gracious gift: "Together with obedience, our Jesuit vows of
poverty and chastity enable us to be shaped in the Church into the im-
age of Jesus himself, they also make clear and visible our availability for
God's call." 51 Later as we cope with the distance and separation from
loved ones that are inevitably part of our apostolic lives and celebrate
the "signs and symbols" that promise a love that never ends, we dis-
cover the solace and comfort of God's Spirit. Living chastity, the Jesuit
experiences God at various times of his life in the person of the Father,
the Son, and the Spirit. Together with their single, partnered, or married
sisters and brothers, Jesuits share the hope that their way of life can free
them to love and be loved ever more fully in all the dimensions and per-
sons of God.
x What stories of grace mark our lives and our ministry? How
recent are they?
x What "signs and symbols" evoke and express the love we wit-
ness in the world? How often do we celebrate these "signs and
x What spaces have we created to be with God and the people of
50 Gregory Boyle, S.J., Tattoos on the Heart: Stories and Parables from the Barrio (New
York: Free Press, 2008).
51 GC 35, "As an Apostolic Religious Community," 22, no. 18.
36 * Gerdenio Sonny Manuel, S.J.
^ When we pray and celebrate the Eucharist, how mindful are
we of the interpersonal relationships and stories that surround
us and reveal the breadth and depth of God's love?
Why chaste and celibate? How in the world could you do that to
yourself? It's a long story but it begins with the desire and longing for
God. It's about how that aspiration called us to come to know the peo-
ple of God in ways we would have never imagined possible. In these re-
lationships and communities of support, we have discovered again and
again how God and often the people of God love us first and how what-
ever love in life we receive and give back never seems to end, comfort-
ing and consoling us in solitude, suffering, and the quest to better our
world. And from what we have seen and witnessed in the world and the
lives of others, we come to believe God's grace is with us and with those
in greatest need. "These alone are enough for me." 52
Spiritual Exercises, 234.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Thank you for the essay of William
Rehg on 'The Value and Viability of
the Jesuit Brother's Vocation" (40/4,
Winter 2008) Much of his essay is giv-
en to the evolution of the brother's vo-
cation, and their strong contribution to
mission and ministry. I would like to
point to one aspect of their contribu-
tion mentioned by Rehg towards the
end of his essay but, in my view, de-
serving more emphasis, namely, their
contribution to Jesuit community life.
Priests have very busy lives and are
often called upon to minister and so-
cialize outside the community. We can
tend to identify ourselves with and act
from our priesthood more than our Je-
suit-ness. Tom Clancy, S.J, responding
to Father Arrupe's words on the "irre-
placeable contribution of the brothers
to community life and apostolate," put
it this way. "Without them [the broth-
ers] the temptation for our priests to
develop into a caste inside the Church
would be even greater than it is today.
(CIS 30, p. 115).
Indeed, Rehg quotes Fr. Kolven-
bach and GC 35, decree 7, repeats that
"in some ways the religious brother
embodies religious life in its essence,
and so is able to illustrate that life with
particular clarity." That life consists of
community and mission, and of a mis-
sion to community. Maybe I am simply
pointing to the importance of our life
in common, to the union of minds and
hearts, the sharing, prayer, conversa-
tion, support, and challenge found in
Jesuit communities. In my experience,
brothers have frequently been the
mainstays of that community life.
As we witness the decline in voca-
tions to the Society, one partial reason
for that decline may be the weakness
of the witness of our community life.
We need Jesuit brothers not only for
our apostolic works but, in a very spe-
cial way. for our community life.
Peter Schineller, S.J.
106 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019
Past Issues of Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits
Available for Sale
(For prices, see inside back cover.)
1/1 Sheets, Profile of the Contemporary Jesuit (Sept. 1969)
1/2 Ganss, Authentic Spiritual Exercises: History and Terminology (Nov. 1969)
2/1 Burke, Institution and Person (Feb. 1970)
2/2 Futrell, Ignatian Discernment (Apr. 1970)
2/3 Lonergan, Response of the Jesuit as Priest and Apostle (Sept. 1970)
3/1 Wright, Grace of Our Pounder and the Grace of Our Vocation (Feb. 1971)
3/2 O'Flaherty, Some Reflections on Jesuit Commitment (Apr. 1971)
3/4 Toner, A Method for Communal Discernment of God's Will (Sept. 1971)
3/5 Sheets, Toward a Theology of the Religious Life (Nov. 1971)
4/2 Two Discussions: I. Spiritual Direction, II. Leadership and Authority (Mar. 1972)
4/3 Orsy, Some Questions about the Purpose and Scope of the General Congregation
4/4 Ganss, Wright, O'Malley, O'Donovan, Dulles, On Continuity and Change: A
Symposium (Oct. 1972)
5/1-2 O'Flaherty, Renewal: Call and Response (Jan-Mar. 1973)
5/3 Arrupe, McNaspy, The Place of Art in Jesuit Life (Apr. 1973)
5/4 Haughey, The Pentecostal Thing and Jesuits (June 1973)
5/5 Orsy, Toward a Theological Evaluation of Communal Discernment (Oct. 1973)
6/3 Knight, Joy and Judgment in Religious Obedience (Apr. 1974)
7/1 Wright, Ganss, Orsy, On Thinking with the Church Today (Jan. 1975)
7/2 Ganss, Christian Life Communities from the Sodalities (Mar. 1975)
7/3 Connolly, Contemporary Spiritual Direction: Scope and Principles (June 1975)
7/5 Buckley, The Confirmation of a Promise; Padberg, Continuity and Change in
General Congregation XXXII (Nov. 1975)
8/1 O'Neill, Acatamiento: Ignatian Reverence (Jan. 1976)
8/2-3 De la Costa, Sheridan, and others, On Becoming Poor: A Symposium on Evan-
gelical Poverty (Mar-May 1976)
8/4 Faricy, Jesuit Community: Community of Prayer (Oct. 1976)
9/1-2 Becker, Changes in U.S. Jesuit Membership, 1958-75; Others, Reactions and Ex-
planations (Jan.-Mar. 1977)
9/4 Connolly, Land, Jesuit Spiritualities and the Struggle for Social Justice (Sept.
9/5 Gill, A Jesuit's Account of Conscience (Nov. 1977)
10/1 Kammer, "Burn-Out" —Dilemma for the Jesuit Social Activist (Jan. 1978)
10/4 Harvanek, Status of Obedience in the Society of Jesus; Others, Reactions to Con-
nolly-Land (Sept. 1978)
11/1 Clancy, Feeling Bad about Feeling Good (Jan. 1979)
11/2 Maruca, Our Personal Witness as Power to Evangelize Culture (Mar. 1979)
11/3 Klein, American Jesuits and the Liturgy (May 1979)
11/5 Conwell, The Kamikaze Factor: Choosing Jesuit Ministries (Nov. 1979)
12/2 Henriot, Appleyard, Klein, Living Together in Mission: A Symposium on Small
Apostolic Communities (Mar. 1980)
12/3 Conwell, Living and Dying in the Society of Jesus (May 1980)
13/1 Peter, Alcoholism in Jesuit Life (Jan. 1981)
13/3 Ganss, Towards Understanding the Jesuit Brothers' Vocation (May 1981)
13/4 Reites, St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jews (Sept. 1981)
14/1 O'Malley, The Jesuits, St. Ignatius, and the Counter Reformation (Jan. 1982)
14/2 Dulles, St. Ignatius and Jesuit Theological Tradition (Mar. 1982)
14/4 Gray, An Experience in Ignatian Government (Sept. 1982)
14/5 Ivern, The Future of Faith and Justice: Review of Decree Four (Nov. 1982)
15/1 O'Malley, The Fourth Vow in Its Ignatian Context (Jan. 1983)
15/2 Sullivan and Faricy, On Making the Spiritual Exercises for Renewal of Jesuit
Charisms (Mar. 1983)
15/3-4 Padberg, The Society True to Itself: A Brief History of the 32nd General Congrega-
tion of the Society of Jesus (May-Sept. 1983)
15 / 5-16 / 1 Tetlow, Jesuits ' Mission in Higher Education (Nov. 1983-Jan. 1984)
16/2 O'Malley, To Travel to Any Part of the World: Jeronimo Nadal and the Jesuit Voca-
tion (Mar. 1984)
16/3 O'Hanlon, Integration of Christian Practices: A Western Christian Looks East (May
16/4 Carlson, "A Faith Lived Out of Doors": Ongoing Formation (Sept. 1984)
17/1 Spohn, St. Paul on Apostolic Celibacy and the Body of Christ (Jan. 1985)
17/2 Daley, "In Ten Thousand Places": Christian Universality and the Jesuit Mission
17/3 Tetlow, Dialogue on the Sexual Maturing of Celibates (May 1985)
17/4 Spohn, Coleman, Clarke, Henriot, Jesuits and Peacemaking (Sept. 1985)
17/5 Kinerk, When Jesuits Pray: A Perspective on the Prayer of Apostolic Persons (Nov.
18/1 Gelpi, The Converting Jesuit (Jan. 1986).
18/2 Beirne, Compass and Catalyst: The Ministry of Administration (Mar. 1986)
18/3 McCormick, Bishops as Teachers and Jesuits as Listeners (May 1986)
18/5 Tetlow, The Transformation of Jesuit Poverty (Nov. 1986).
19/1 Staudenmaier, United States Technology and Adult Commitment (Jan. 1987)
19/2 Appleyard, Languages We Use: Talking about Religious Experience (Mar. 1987)
19/5 Endean, Who Do You Say Ignatius Is? Jesuit Fundamentalism and Beyond (Nov.
20/1 Brackley, Downward Mobility: Social Implications of St. Ignatius's Two Standards
20 / 2 Padberg, How We Live Where We Live (Mar. .1988)
20/3 Hayes, Padberg, Staudenmaier, Symbols, Devotions, and Jesuits (May 1988)
20/4 McGovern, Jesuit Education and Jesuit Spirituality (Sept. 1988)
20/5 Barry, Jesuit Formation Today: An Invitation to Dialogue and Involvement (Nov.
21/1 Wilson, Where Do We Belong? United States Jesuits and Their Memberships (Jan.
21/2 Demoustier, Calvez, et al., The Disturbing Subject: The Option for the Poor (Mar.
21/3 Soukup, Jesuit Response to the Communication Revolution (May 1989)
22/1 Carroll, The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (Jan. 1990)
22/2 Bracken, Jesuit Spirituality from a Process Prospective (March 1990)
22/3 Shepherd, Fire for a Weekend: An Experience of the Exercises (May 1990)
22 / 4 O'Sullivan, Trust Your Feelings, but Use Your Head (Sept. 1990)
22/5 Coleman, A Company of Critics: Jesuits and the Intellectual Life (Nov. 1990)
23/1 Houdek, The Road Too Often Traveled Qan. 1991)
23/3 Begheyn and Bogart, A Bibliography on St. Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises
23/4 Shelton, Reflections on the Mental Health of Jesuits (Sept. 1991)
23/5 Toolan, "Nature Is a Heraclitean Fire" (Nov. 1991)
24/1 Houdek, Jesuit Prayer and Jesuit Ministry: Context and Possibilities (Jan. 1992)
24/2 Smolich, Testing the Water: Jesuits Accompanying the Poor (March 1992)
24/3 Hassel, Jesus Christ Changing Yesterday, Today, and Forever (May 1992)
24/4 Shelton, Toward Healthy Jesuit Community Living (Sept. 1992)
24/5 Cook, Jesus' Parables and the Faith That Does Justice (Nov. 1992)
25/3 Padberg, Ignatius, the Popes, and Realistic Reverence (May 1993)
25/4 Stahel, Toward General Congregation 34 (Sept. 1993)
25/5 Baldovin, Christian Liturgy: An Annotated Bibliography (Nov. 1993)
26/2 Murphy, The Many Ways of Justice (March 1994)
26/3 Staudenmaier, To Fall in Love with the World (May 1994)
26/5 Landy, Myths That Shape Us (Nov. 1994)
27/1 Daley, "To Be More like Christ" (Jan. 1995)
27/2 Schmidt, Portraits and Landscapes (March 1995)
27/3 Stockhausen, I'd Love to, but I Don't Have the Time (May 1995)
27/4 Anderson, Jesuits in Jail, Ignatius to the Present (Sept. 1995)
27/5 Shelton, Friendship in Jesuit Life (Nov. 1995)
28/1 Begheyn, Bibliography on the History of the Jesuits (Jan. 1996)
28/3 Clooney, In Ten Thousand Places, in Every Blade of Grass (May 1996)
28/4 Starkloff, "As Different As Night and Day" (Sept. 1996)
28/5 Beckett, Listening to Our History (Nov. 1996)
29/1 Hamm, Preaching Biblical Justice (Jan. 1997)
29/2 Padberg, The Three Forgotten Founders (March 1997)
29/3 Byrne, Jesuits and Parish Ministry (May 1997)
29 / 4 Keenan, Are Inf ormationes Ethical? (Sept. 1997)
29/5 Ferlita, The Road to Bethlehem - Is It Level or Winding ? (Nov. 1997)
30/1 Shore, The "Vita Christi" ofLudolph of Saxony and Its Influence on the "Spiritual
Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola" (Jan. 1998)
30/2 Starkloff, "I'm No Theologian, but... (or So... )?" (March 1998)
30/3 Torrens, The Word That Clamors (May 1998)
30/4 Petrik, "Being Sent" (Sept. 1998)
30/5 Jackson, "One and the Same Vocation" (Nov. 1998)
31/1 Clifford, Scripture and the Exercises (Jan. 1999)
31/2 Toohig, Physics Research, a Search for God (March 1999)
31/3 Fagin, Fidelity in the Church— Then and Now (May 1999)
31/4 Schineller, Pilgrim Journey of Ignatius (Sept. 1999)
31/5 Fullam, Juana, S.J.: Status of Women in the Society (Nov. 1999)
32/1 Langan, The Good of Obedience in a Culture of Autonomy (Jan. 2000)
32 / 2 Blake, Listen with Your Eyes (March 2000)
32/3 Shelton, When a Jesuit Counsels Others (May 2000)
32/4 Barry, Past, Present, and Future (Sept. 2000)
32/5 Starkloff, Pilgrimage Re-envisioned (Nov. 2000)
33/1 Kolvenbach et al., Faith, Justice, and American Jesuit Higher Education (Jan.
33/2 Keenan, Unexpected Consequences: Persons's Christian Directory (March 2001)
33/3 Arrupe, Trinitarian Inspiration of the Ignatian Charism (May 2001)
33/4 Veale, Saint Ignatius Asks, "Are You Sure You Know Who I Am ? " (Sept. 2001)
33/5 Barry and Keenan, How Multicultural Are We ? (Nov. 2001 )
34/1 Blake, "City of the Living God" Qan. 2002)
34/2 Clooney, A Charismfor Dialog (March 2002)
34/3 Rehg, Christian Mindfulness (May 2002)
34/4 Brackley, Expanding the Shrunken Soul (Sept. 2002)
34/5 Bireley, The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War (Nov. 2002)
35/1 Barry, Jesuit Spirituality for the Whole of Life (Jan. 2003)
35/2 Madden /Janssens, The Training of Ours in the Sacred Liturgy (March 2003)
35/4 Modras, A Jesuit in the Crucible (Sept. 2003)
35/5 Lucas, Virtual Vessels, Mystical Signs (Nov. 2003)
36/1 Rausch, Christian Life Communities for Jesuit University Students? (Spring
36/2 Bernauer, The Holocaust and the Search for Forgiveness (Summer 2004)
36/3 Nantais, "Whatever! " Is Not Ignatian Indifference (Fall 2004)
36/4 Lukacs, The Incarnational Dynamic of the Constitutions (Winter 2004)
37/1 Smolarski, Jesuits on the Moon (Spring 2005)
37/2 McDonough, Clenched Fist or Open Hands? (Summer 2005)
37/3 Torrens, Tuskegee Years (Fall 2005)
37/4 O'Brien, Consolation in Action (Winter 2005)
38/1 Schineller, In Their Own Words (Spring 2006)
38/2 Jackson, "Something that happened to me at Manresa" (Summer 2006)
38/3 Reiser, Locating the Grace of the Fourth Week (Fall 2006)
38/4 O'Malley, Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism (Winter 2006)
39/1 McKevitt, Italian Jesuits in Maryland (Spring 2007)
39/2 Kelly, Loved into Freedom and Service (Summer 2007
39/3 Kennedy, Music and the Jesuit Mission (Autumn 2007)
39/4 Creed, Jesuits and the Homeless (Winter 2007)
40 / 1 Giard, The Jesuit College (Spring 2008)
40/2 Au, Ignatian Service (Summer 2008)
40/3 Kaslyn, Jesuit Ministry of Publishing (Autumn 2008)
40/4 Rehg, Value and Viability of the Jesuit Brothers ' Vocation (Winter 2008)
41/1 Friedrich, Governance in the Society of Jesus, 1540-1773 (Spring 2009)
41/2 Manuel, Living Chastity (Summer 1009)
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